Amsterdam Favorites Part 1: Things to Do & See

We decided to gather all of our favorite places and things to do and put them into a handy little guide. This post will guide you through the coolest neighborhoods in town with all of the best things to do and see. Our next post will give you our favorite places to eat and drink, so keep on reading for the perfect itinerary!

 
 

The second you walk outside of Centraal Station, you notice that Amsterdam is a strange place: everyone speaks near-perfect English, there are tons of bikes with few cars, everything is clean and orderly but there’s also a mischievous feel to the city. At the same time, you’ll try and navigate through the hoards of loud and obnoxious tourists heading for the Red Light District. If you’re reading this guide, you’ll be walking the opposite direction to the more charming and interesting parts of Amsterdam. Below you'll find some of the spots that became our favorites over the past few months, specifically written for a short trip in mind.

Neighborhoods

Every neighborhood in Amsterdam is unique, each with their own vibe and reputation. From the scandalous Red Light District to the chic De Negen Straatjes, there’s sure to be a neighborhood that steals your heart. Here are a few of our favorites:

Jordaan

  • One of the most famous neighborhoods in Amsterdam

  • Developed in 17th century for working class but is now gentrified

  • One of the coolest areas for drinks, dinner, and galleries with a very local, residential feel

  • Home to the oldest coffee shops and traditional brown cafes

  • Characterized by historic, cobblestone streets and lush vegetation

  • Legendary farmers market takes place there every Saturday

  • Home to the iconic Anne Frank house and Rembrandt Museum

 

De Negen Straatjes (‘The Nine Streets’)

  • Characterized by the canals that run through them

  • The shopping scene of Amsterdam

  • Full of the the hottest hotels, restaurants, and cafes

  • Tourist driven but also has a preserved local scene

  • Beautiful, picturesque views of the canals (great place to take those quintessential Amsterdam photos for Instagram)

  • Book your stay at either the swanky and upscale Pulitzer Hotel or the newly-built Hoxton, one of our favorite new hotel brands

 

De Pijp (‘The Pipe’)

  • Popular bohemian neighborhood, slightly outside the city center

  • Originally a working-class area which now is home to many different cultures

  • Full of vibrant cafes, shops, ethnic restaurants, and markets

  • Visit the Albert Cuyp Markt for an array of foods, shops, etc.

  • Skip the Heineken Experience and explore the neighborhood

Things to Do

Amsterdam is a very unique city because it’s pretty tiny and, as such, you can get around quickly and easily on a bike. From its historical roots in the arts, down the picturesque canals, and to its very entrepreneurial and international atmosphere Amsterdam is currently experiencing a revolution in food, music, art, entertainment, and fashion, making it a travel destination with tons of things to do.

Rent a bicycle

  • Everyone rides one and you can get basically everywhere on a bike

  • Fit in and feel like a local

  • Be bold - it’s an intense, eye-opening experience

 

Rent a boat on the canal

  • Rentals by the hour of any size (from 2 - 50 people)

  • Drive the boat yourself or rent it with a driver (rate varies)

  • Make it a picnic: bring wine, cheese & meat; it’s awesome

  • Bring music/speakers: technically illegal, but all the locals get away with it

 

Van Gogh Museum

  • Vast collection of Van Gogh's famous works

  • Great narrative that walks you through exhibit and his life story

  • New ‘paranoia section’ portrays his mental illness and how it all happened

 

Banksy v. Warhol Exhibit

  • Exhibit of Banksy’s provocative street art & graffiti

  • Displays a collection of some of the most regarded works of both Banksy and Warhol, side-by-side

  • Visually-stimulating exhibit

**The exhibit closed this month but Amsterdam always has great new shows and is at forefront of displaying up-and-coming artists and exhibits!

 

Visit a Park

  • Picnic in Westerpark with the locals

  • Walk or bike through the huge Vondelpark

 

Book an Escape Room Game

  • Great way to spend a rainy afternoon with friends

  • Many popular games all over the city

  • Check out Sherlocked for one of the toughest games in Europe